Thistle Hotel manager murdered

2008-03-27 00:00

DISTRAUGHT family and friends yesterday mourned the death of Mark Truter, who was murdered at the family-owned Thistle Hotel in Boshoff Street, Pietermaritzburg, yesterday morning.

The Truter family are well known in the Pietermaritzburg area as owners of the Thistle Hotel, Thistle bottle store and car dealership in Boshoff Street. Truter (38) had managed his parents’ hotel for the past 15 years.

Concerned by the fact that he was not at the hotel to open up, staff went to look for him and found him dead from asphyxiation in his hotel room.

Police, though they are still investigating the matter, believe that the motive for the crime was robbery.

Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram told The Witness that the robbers probably hid in the hotel until it closed at around midnight.

Truter had probably just finished cashing up when the suspects launched their attack. The robbers removed the safe keys from him and stole an undisclosed amount of money from the safe.

Though he did not suffer any physical injury, the robbers tied him up, gagged his nose and mouth with a plaster and left him to suffocate in his room.

“All these years, we fought so hard to keep him alive, he fought so hard to stay alive and now they just killed him,” said his brother Lawrence.

Truter suffered from cystic fibrosis. He was one of the longest-known survivors on record to live with the degenerative condition that affected his lungs and digestive system.

His brother-in-law, Duncan Graham, told The Witness that Truter was very sickly, but he never complained about his disease and was always a “trooper”.

“I remember one year when we went to the coast. He was walking on the beach with a drip stuck in his arm and he had to top it up every so often, but he still played with the kids — and the kids loved him,” he said.

Truter’s death is the second tragedy to hit his parents Pauline and John in the space of five years.

Adam, the family’s youngest son was killed in a car accident that occurred not far from the hotel.

Lawrence, their only remaining son, looking through last year’s Christmas photographs, shook his head and said: “I don’t know what’s happening, the brothers are just dying — now Mark.”

The family’s car dealership was already filled with flowers and condolence cards yesterday.

Friends were shocked by Truter’s murder, describing him as being “too gentle and caring to hurt a fly”.

“I remember when my husband broke his leg, he and Mark were really good friends, Mark would bring him food from the Thistle at least once a week,” said a friend.

Linda Hofmeyr, who knew Truter from childhood, described him as “a man with a heart of gold”.

Hofmeyr said he loved to cook and was not afraid to experiment with recipes.

“He would raid my freezer and make something amazing.”

The response from all the people who knew Truter, was unanimous.

“He was a kind, witty, gentle soul who cared sincerely, loved deeply and will sadly be missed by all those who knew him.”

melissad@witness.co.za

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